The Obama campaign is very, very worried about money. Their latest effort to get the big bucks is being mocked mercilessly by the Republican National Committee:

More seriously, Ben Smith reports that there is good reason for Democrats to be nervous:

In 2008, more than 550,000 gave more than $200 to Barack Obama, entering their names in the longest list of individual donors ever seen in American politics.

That list was a snapshot of the hope Obama inspired in a cross sections of liberals, young professionals, African-Americans, and Democrats who saw in him a generational and historic moment. But now, as Obama struggles to keep pace with his 2008 fundraising clip, that list offers a cross-section of Democratic disappointment and alienation. According to a BuzzFeed analysis of campaign finance data, 88% of the people who gave $200 or more in 2008 — 537,806 people — have not yet given that sum this year.

Ben contends that the downturn is attributable to the fact that “support has gone from fervent to lukewarm, or . . . economic circumstances have left them without money to spare.” The irony of the “Obama economy,” huh?

But something else is going on here. For starters, it is one thing to give money to be on the winning side and cozy up to a future president. It is quite another to waste money on a lackluster candidate who could well lose. Like Intrade (currently overvalued at 54.2 percent) and the stock market (the Dow Jones is teetering just around 12,000), fundraising reflects confidence in future performance. The 2008 crowd is wary.

The lagging fundraising may also reflect a downturn in support among wealthy Jewish donors, although BuzzFeed did no statistical breakdown by religion. Overall support among Jews is down to 59 percent for President Obama. If you look at BuzzFeed’s map of where Obama donors have dropped off, high concentrations of non-contributing donors are in urban and suburban settings with large Jewish populations (e.g., New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles). Perhaps his prickly relationship with Israel is literally “costing” him.

Money follows enthusiasm an optimism. Obama has a lot of money, but much less than in 2008. The same, Romney hopes, may be the case when it comes to votes.